Post by Lillian Gray on Jul 3, 2014 23:42:35 GMT -6
Alexander leaned down to whisper in her ear. Although he wanted to keep her safe from the media, he also had to play them right. He had to seem at least affectionate, or his brother would win.
"If you'd like, shall I do it instead?"
He leaned forward slightly to get a glimpse of her eyes. Although fearful and dilated from the bright flash of each individual camera. Brighter than his dull blue eyes, the new experience reflected easily back to the Prince.
Later, he would explain the cameras, and the microphones and newspaper. He hadn't figured that slaves wouldn't understand these things, but it dawned on him. When would they have ever seen a camera or newspaper? No one went to the outer reaches of town.
"Alright, don't be afraid." Alexander straightened his back so he stood tall above the balcony. He hated the image of him standing taller than his people, but it couldn't be helped. The Prince would gladly have mingled among them, reciting speeches from the ground.
If I don't answer them myself, I will seem weak. Do I want to be weak before the king? Jocelyn's heart screamed that weakness was safer than making bold statements and acting with a confidence she did not feel, for lying was never a wise option, but she knew that making a fool of herself by letting the prince speak for her would also make a fool of him. He had saved her sight, her life. Though there was always the possibility that this was still a trick of sorts, she would play their game, and allow the pampered nobles to get a glimpse of their princess-to-be.
At least, that's how she liked to think. But actions always spoke louder than words, or thoughts, in this oddly off-put scenario.
Cautiously, Jocelyn opened her mouth.
"My...my name is Jocelyn," she spoke, but her voice was much to humble and quiet for anyone to hear. The king began to snicker, and the queen rolled her eyes.
I have to speak louder.
"Jocelyn," came a voice of confidence from nowhere. She cleared her throat. "Jocelyn McDowell, Mining District. I t...I trust...I trust your prince and have decided to accept his proposal. I only h-...hope I can be a pleasure to you all."
The men with cameras scribbled things on papers with vigorous intentions and the women began to chatter excitedly. Her words seemed to spawn quicker, more frequent flashes.
She gripped his hand tightly, and squeezed. One. Two. Three.
Post by Lillian Gray on Jul 4, 2014 0:28:47 GMT -6
Alexander smiled with pride at her words. Although she still had an accent about her, and she had stuttered once or twice. Even if it wasn't perfect, she'd managed to speak for herself, the King would have to be satisfied with that.
"I trust you two will be very happy together, won't you?" The King chortled from his place by his wife. He wasn't even trying to hide his amusement.
"A diamond in the rough, but a diamond all the same, big brother." Alexander and his brother played friends on the balconies, the disdain evident in their eyes alone.
One squeeze, two, then the third. The Prince stopped himself short and looked down at his bride to be. This was all she could take.
"We have some details to plan, so we must be going." Alexander waved goodbye to the cameras and pulled the both of them back inside the building hastily.
With the balcony doors shut behind them, the two were left alone in the empty space. A few couches and chairs were here and there, empty offices lined the outside walls. Alexander leaned down and rubbed the outside of her arms.
"I don't feel like I did well," she told him honestly, feeling the clutch in her lungs recommence. "And I don't feel well, either. Please, I just want to see my family one last time, that's all I want, take me back..."
Jocelyn cringed away from his touch and rubbed her arms where he had, as if that would chase the sensation away. Her brothers would calm her down, all seven of them, her mother and father too, before they were taken away to enjoy Peace Week and return to their stations after.
And Jocelyn would remain here, locked in a cage like a songbird waiting to be shot from the sky.
Post by Lillian Gray on Jul 4, 2014 0:46:14 GMT -6
"Of course." Alexander said curtly.
No matter what he did, the Prince wouldn't be able to make her smile. She was so desperate to go home, had he really done something so terrible by saving her eyesight? Maybe there was another boy back home she liked, her family was important as well. All the man had tried to do was be kind, but he had so much to learn from this one experience. Had he taken the time to convince his brother that love would come naturally for him, maybe the poor girl wouldn't have been stuck in that lineup.
He shook his head, and with it, the thoughts.
"Come, we can see if Arthur is back. I'll leave you all alone so you can reconnect."
I don't want to be in the way. Goodbyes are hard enough as it is.
The two ascended the elevator once more. Jocelyn hardly heard the clacking and clanging of chains and cogs and other mechanisms that made the contraption move. She was focused on the grim future ahead, the games, the parties, the dresses, the lies, the children. It was a wife's sacred duty to provide heirs for her husband's line, so it was written in the Holy Documents of Our God. But even with Goddess's strength and prayers for Her mercy, the thought of providing children for a prince scared Jocelyn to the point of restrictive breathing.
Give me strength, she prayed, crying.
She wanted to tell Alexander that it wasn't him she had a problem with, that she was truly a kind and gentle girl, but the words wouldn't come. Jocelyn was still afraid of him somewhat. There was no telling how he would react to any of this. A man could be compassionate one day, and a monster the next.
The elevator doors opened. The dirty, ragged faces of her family greeted her from across the room.
Wiping her tears, Jocelyn ran to them, embracing the nearest brother and feeling her feet fly off the floor as she was picked up and surrounded with the only love she'd ever known. She didn't give a damn if her dress was dirtied or began to smell--her family was more important than any of those things. And she wanted Alexander to see that.
Post by Lillian Gray on Jul 4, 2014 1:16:38 GMT -6
In the midst of the happy reunion, Alexander felt out of place. For once in his life he was in the wrong group. Even the maids were distant, not one could be seen, probably Arthur keeping them at bay.
The Prince saw the looks on their faces. There was no joy for the girl, no one congratulated her on her luck. They all looked so sad to see her go.
Alexander tapped the father on his shoulder and pulled him aside. He looked tired, his back bent slightly forward, a field worker no doubt. Many of them had bad backs from their work.
"Sir, I'd like to personally introduce myself." Alexander held out his hand as he would an equal, hoping he would accept. "I would like to explain myself, and how your daughter ended up here with me today, if you'd allow me to."
Jocelyn embraced all of them in turn. Her mother was a field worker, like her father, the only two of the family to work in such a district. They were separated from their children all year until Peace Week came around. Jocelyn could see the tear-stains on her mother's cheek and wasn't oblivious to her puffy eyes. Peace Week never seemed so peaceful, not until it was already done.
Her eldest brother Jonathan was a miner, like her. She was fortunate enough to have drawn the tile of Mining District during her Initiation, where three of her seven brothers were sent to work, so she was very fortunate to never be without family. They protected her as best they could, from prying Overseers to puffs of smoke an dirt that could upset her lungs and trigger a life-threatening event. Jared and Jack were among the three. Jocelyn somberly remembered the day of her Initiation, drawing the tile from a great pool of others at the ceremony, and despite her condition she watched her parents weep with joy, for half of their children would stay together, which was more than any slave parent could hope for.
Jordan, the second eldest, looked exhausted but overjoyed to see his family again. Jocelyn had never gotten the chance to grow up with him--she was born when he was Initiated, as all children were at age twelve, though the resemblance to their mother was uncanny. Jocelyn hardly knew this brother. They worked in separated districts and only met during the four Peace Weeks she was eligible to take part in.
Jacob, the Pleasure worker of the family, embraced Jocelyn with open arms. She hardly knew him either, though moreso than Jordan, and the girl was pleased to see Jacob had found love. He had brought his newlywed husband with him for Peace Week, and though the tone in the room was underlined with devastation, she faked pure joy for the sake of making a good impression on her brother's mate.
Jorge was missing. According to her mother, he had gone off to Aria to enjoy Peace Week with his wife's family, though Jocelyn was assured she would see him the following year. If only they understood. Jeremy and Jocelyn traded hand gestures of happiness and caught up on the past year--he never spoke as punishment for his crimes. Jeremy and Jack embraced Jocelyn each in turn, and though she worked with them, making the reunion less necessary, it was still important to see them before they returned to the mines without her.
My family, she thought. Is this the last time I will ever see them?
Judah, the patriarch of the family, had grudgingly obliged to step aside with the Crown Prince of Farlienn. There was no love in his eyes, and when the man extended his hand in peaceful greeting, Judah assumed it was meant to be kissed and leaned down to press his lips lightly to Alexander's knuckles.
"Your Highness," he stated, "I don't need ta' question your motifs. My daughter is sweet and kind and gentle, m'lord. She'll be a wife to yer prince's needs, good n' proper. Promise."
Post by Lillian Gray on Jul 4, 2014 1:51:15 GMT -6
"You misunderstand me." Alexander looked sadly at Jocelyn's father. He'd kissed his hand where the Prince meant to shake it. The man knelt on the ground before the head of the family. Such an action in public would have been considered taboo, but in his quarters he was safe from prying eyes.
"My brother threatened her, circumstances had it I was able to help her." He explained what had happened. The lineup, the anger, this was to be his father in law. There would be no secrets as to what happened to his daughter while she was in Alexander's care. "I won't touch her until she's ready, and if she's not, may I never bear an heir."
There was something more, something else the Prince wanted to ask of Jocelyn's father. Away from the family, he remained on the ground with his head lowered. He felt too bold for asking, but it needed to be done.
"While I forced myself on her, I only ask this of you. Bless us both. Your approval is all I could ask for." Alexander looked up to the father, not even knowing his name. Introductions could be done later. He only wanted to know that her father understood what the Prince had done, that he wasn't as awful as his brother William.
Judah shifted nervously, glancing over to his beautiful daughter clad in garb meant for royalty, though she still bore the education and knowledge of a slave. He worried for her so, we wept when the noble burst into their home with the news.
Like Jocelyn, he felt he was being tricked. He hesitated before sitting down on the floor, so that his head was lower than the tall prince's out of respect and force of habit. His eyes were fierce. "If what ya say is the real true, Your Highness, then I should thank ya for savin' my daughter's life." But you have damned her, and I can never forgive you. Judah gave a grim nod. "I would be a bad slave to tell a prince no. I'd gladly bless a marriage like this, it's all I could ever have wanted for my little girl."
He cleared his burning throat, and looked to the floor. "Will Your Highness let me stand now?"